The past twenty-four hours has been all-consuming, jarring and leaving me in a puddle of jumbled emotions and confusion.
The first part of it started yesterday when I brought my cat in for a follow-up vet visit. That last sentence seems so casual, but it was anything but. As I gathered his thin, lethargic body in my arms to put him in his cage, there was no struggle, no fight left in him. I knew this would be his last moments. I knew it in my heart, even though that wasn't the plan. The plan was to make him better, but at that point, I knew it was a longshot. He had been losing weight over a few months, but nothing drastic until the last few weeks. At his last visit he was anemic and his liver counts were off. There was suspicion that his condition was being caused by a primary anemia, but after several days of treatment for that, he had lost even more weight, so much so that all I felt was ribs. He was vomiting and had stopped eating. We had the option to keep him hospitalized and gather more information, but even without a specialist's consultation (which would have been thousands at the end of the day), the vet felt a mass on his GI track and just knew. So, we realized what we had to do to release our boy from his suffering. We had to say goodbye.
I always forget how much bravery it takes to go there until I am faced with it again. And again. But I am so grateful that we had that option for him and it was with the most loving guidance. We've been with the same vet for over six years and I wouldn't trade them for the world. They let us make our decision without influence and when it was done, backed us up and helped us through it. Charlie (my cat) was known for purring so loudly that it was often mistaken for a growl. But this was the last creature on earth that would ever growl. He was a gentle soul, one who let G lay on him or pretend to ride him like a pony in the days when he was nearing 20 pounds (he was a beefy cat). And his passing was a peaceful one. Cradled in Mr. S's lap, I was able to cuddle with him in his last moments. After the vet began, his purring became faint, subsided and then he put his head down. It's always suprising to me after having been exposed to violent deaths in media how gentle and understated it can really be, as if they've merely gone to sleep. That's what makes it so hard to grasp.
As if that weren't enough:
Reeling from this, I faced my RE today. I told Mr. S to skip it because my purpose was to close the doors on all that was treatment-related so that I could clear room to move on and this was something I could do alone. And quite honestly, the appointment felt like an afterthought following last night's events, so I went in casually...and came out completely baffled.
One thing I knew before going in there that I haven't been as transparent about on here was that I had not yet truly moved on from the possibilty of treatment and my RE's words made that even more so.
First, she determined based on our best knowledge, including past labs (I had a complete 'multiple miscarriage panel after my first), that the fact I've had two miscarriages was probably horrible, horrible luck. Do we know that for sure? No. But based on what we do have as evidence, that's her idea. Although she was wondering whether sperm issues might have contributed. After discussing embryo adoption, she determined that in many cases, the embryos we might get would probably not even be as high quality as the ones we could produce ourselves (unless the donor embryos were from donor egg/sperm--talk about indirect reproduction) and after a few tries there, we'd be looking at the same cost as a fresh cycle. She completely nixed the egg donor idea because she doesn't believe that's where the problem lies. She admitted that my FSH was worse than other 34-year-olds, but absolutely not out of the realm of being responsive to treatment. So, what was her recommendation? A fresh IVF. While it's still a gamble, she seemed to be very positive about it.
Fuuuu.ck. That wasn't what I wanted to hear. I wanted black-and-white: "You're broken. Don't waste your money here." I really thought for sure that's what I was going to hear and at least that would have made this decision easier.
And then we had some discussion about my concerns regarding adoption and she agreed with these as very real, sparking more fear in me for that road. Ugh. I did make known that I very much wanted a second child and that this was an either/or scenario as we didn't have the funds to do both.
Call me naive, but I just don't think she would mislead me for more business (they're doing plenty fine). However, I also know this is her job--treatment. Her world has to be that treatment is the end-all, be-all. She is conditioned towards this everyday, so although her medical expertise is excellent, this is not a decision that is now only weighed within the confines of a fertility clinic.
It's a gamble and I know I wanted a guarantee, but when a gambler hits the jackpot even once, it is too seductive to resist going back to that same machine and trying again, even if the odds have dropped considerably. I feel the draw towards it again and I know that the treatment itself is not what I fear. It is the fact that I may walk away empty-handed once again.
So, our decisions boil down to these two:
- Go into a fresh IVF with a final acceptance and understanding that G may very well be an only child at the end of it.
- Adoption and coming to terms with some of those fears before embarking.
I have no idea where I'm going from here. It was hard enough to think through my major life decisions without having lost my beloved Charlie. So, next month we will be embarking on a cruise, just the three of us and I'll be seeing my sister (the only sister I am close to) after 20+ years of separation: both things we desperately need as something to look forward to. I'll need that down time and maybe then I will be clear-headed and ready to move.